Everyone has an anime that they love but no one else has heard of. Despite our best effort, rarely do these hidden gems get the praise they deserve. Well, I’m here to change that! Once a month, I’m going to highlight a lesser known anime that I feel deserves more recognition! Up first is my own personal hidden gem, Kara no Kyoukai.
I was first introduced to Kara no Kyoukai through it’s soundtrack. I had been perusing Yuki Kajiura’s discography and found a soundtrack unlike any other. After hearing it, I wanted to find out which anime it was connected to. I was not disappointed. When watching the anime, the first thing that stands out is how extraordinarily integrated the soundtrack is to the animation, perfectly encapsulating and delivering the mood and ambiance. This, though, is just the tip of the iceberg. Despite being a tad on the old side, released from 2007 to 2009, the animation does not show its age. Like the other works that Ufotable has created, the characters and backgrounds are clean and elegant. In addition, the fight choreography is some of the best I’ve ever seen. To this day, I use it as an example of what anime can be.
Content wise, though, be warned: Kara no Kyoukai deals with difficult topics like suicide, rape, and domestic abuse. This show is not for everyone. For the most part these topics are integrated into the story with care. They help further character development rather than being “something horrific that happens”, which I do appreciate. The anime builds off the horrible rather than using it as a tool.
It is by no means a perfect anime, though. As much as I find the story content strong and engaging, the writing and dialogue falls into a similar line as the Matrix. The story, at times, feels a bit full of itself with every line being delivered with all the gravitas needed to sell a trailer. It bugged me for the first few movies. The characters are also rather stale at the beginning. While I remember loving the strong presence the main character, Ryougi Shiki, had, I realize now that she is a Mary Sue, at least at the beginning. As each movie follows her dealing with supernatural occurrences caused by traumatic events, she grows into her humanity. You just need to be patient.
Another key detractor I found comes in the form of chronology. This series is set up as seven full length movies that tell the story of Ryougi Shiki growing as a person. Straightforward enough, right? No. The movies are intentionally presented out of order. The first movie actually shows Ryougi Shiki in the middle of her character arc, the second is first chronologically, and the rest are equally as mixed up. I personally found this set up fun, as I was slowly able to piece together the whole picture of Shiki. I do understand, though, that it can be frustrating and is certainly not for everyone.
If you are interested in Kara no Kyoukai, I would suggest watching them in release order. While you get a continuous character arc watching them chronologically, there’s just something missing. I would also suggest you try to find HD copies of the movies. They really are worth the extra definition. However, I have a hard time suggesting where to find them. Due to their relative age and lack of viewership, Kara no Kyoukai is nearly impossible to find on most legal streaming sites, leaving very few options for watching the movies.
I still say check it out if you can, though. To this day, Kara no Kyoukai still has a fond place in my heart. It was the first anime young me saw that wasn’t just simple fluff. (Shiki was also the first person I wanted to cosplay) This anime is certainly not what you show to someone as their first, but for those who have the time to sit down and digest the movies, you’ll find the overarching story masterful. While this is not the anime for everyone, it’s still the anime for most, so definitely check this one out! It certainly needs more of a following than it has!
If you have an anime that you would like me to feature as your hidden gem, post in the comments below! Next week I will be talking about the science behind the Vocaloid hologram concerts, so stay tuned!